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'Morning sickness' linked to healthier babies

“Morning sickness isn't all bad news: Women battling the condition may have 'healthier, more intelligent babies’,” the Mail Online reports.The news is based on the results of a systematic review that looked at the effects of “morning sickness”. Health professionals prefer the term “nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP)” because, as many pregnant women can attest, symptoms can occur at any ti

Eating more than 5 a day 'brings no extra benefit'

"Eating more than five a day has 'no extra health benefit'," reports The Independent. The paper reports on a review that combined the results of previous research looking at the effect of increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables people eat.One of the things they specifically wanted to look at was whether there is a dose-dependent effect. The study did find there was a 5% reduction in ris

Tiny area of the brain linked to fear of the future

"Pea-sized brain hub could shed light on depression," BBC News reports. UK scientists think they have identified part of the brain responsible for feelings of foreboding. This part of the brain, called the habenula, may also be associated with depression.The headline is based on a small study that used brain scans to look at brain activity in volunteers subjected to a Pavlovian-style series o

Running 7 minutes a day 'halves heart death risk'

"Running for just a few minutes each day can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease," The Guardian reports. Ultimately, you can't outrun the Grim Reaper. But this news accurately reflects the results of a large long-term US study on health outcomes.And unlike yesterday's superficially similar brief exercise story, this study seems to have legs.The research reported on today found p

Over-60s exercise claim based on just 12 people

"Two minute of exercise … is enough to boost pensioners' health," the Daily Mirror reports. A pilot study into high intensity training suggests it may be an effective method of combating the effects of ageing. However, the UK media are guilty of hyping the implications of a small study, involving just 12 people, which lasted only six weeks.The 12 participants were randomised into two group

Should donor blood be screened for hepatitis E?

"One in almost every 3,000 blood donors in England could be infected with hepatitis E, according to a new study," The Times reports. Hepatitis E normally causes only a mild infection that usually clears up without the need for treatment. It can occasionally lead to more serious complications in more vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system.A new st

Study links shift work to increased risk of diabetes

“Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who work shifts, a large international study suggests,” BBC News reports. The BBC reports on a review that searched the literature and found 12 studies including more than 225,000 people which looked at the link between shift work and diabetes.When pooling the results the researchers found that overall, shift work was associated with a 9% increased

TV and gaming after work 'leads to feelings of guilt'

“Watching TV after work makes you feel ‘guilty and like a failure’,” says The Independent, citing a study looking at the concept of “ego depletion”.Ego depletion is the idea that after a gruelling task your levels of self-control become drained. So after a hard day’s work, instead of going to the gym as you promised yourself, you spend the evening playing “Plants Vs Zombies” or watching repea

Deadly MERS 'camel flu' may now be airborne

“Deadly Mers virus 'could now be airborne',” The Independent reports. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which has an estimated case fatality rate of 30%, has been detected in an air sample in a camel barn in Saudi Arabia. This raises the possibility the virus could be spread through the air in the same way as flu. MERS emerged in 2012 and can be extremely serious, leading to

Paracetamol 'doesn't work' for lower back pain

“Paracetamol used to treat acute lower back pain is no better than a dummy pill,” BBC News reports. A well-conducted trial casts doubts on the widespread recommendation that paracetamol is an effective treatment for lower back pain.It reports on a randomised double-blind controlled trial of people with acute low back pain. All participants were told to remain active and avoid bed rest. They w

Sleep deprivation may affect memory

The Mail Online states that “just one bad night’s sleep can have a dramatic effect on your memory – even leading to false memories”. Though the results of this small experimental study involving US students are interesting, they're far from dramatic. Researchers were interested in investigating whether sleep deprivation has an effect on a person’s susceptibility to false memories, which ar

Umami flavouring 'may help you feel fuller faster'

"Always hungry? You need more umami in your life: study finds so-called 'fifth taste' in sauces and meat helps us feel satisfied," reports the Mail Online.Umami is a Japanese term that roughly translates as "pleasant savoury taste" and has been described as the fifth taste, the other four being sweet, sour, bitter and salty.The sensation of eating umami-rich food, such as soy sauce and she

Study offers insight into genetics of schizophrenia

"More than 100 schizophrenia genes have been pinpointed," reports the Daily Mail. In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers have gained further insights into the genetics of the condition, which it is hoped could lead to new treatments.Researchers have identified genetic differences at 108 positions in the genome (the complete set of DNA that "defines" an individual organism) tha

Probiotics 'may improve blood pressure'

“Eating probiotics may lower blood pressure,” The Daily Telegraph reports.Probiotics, so-called “friendly bacteria”, have been found to moderately reduce blood pressure in a new study.The study is what is known as a systematic review, which is essentially a study of studies. Researchers combined the results of nine randomised controlled trials (regarded as the “gold standard” in evidence-b

HIV 'reservoirs' may form earlier than expected

"Early HIV drugs 'may not stop virus'," BBC News reports. The report is based on a study of HIV treatments in monkeys, and has been linked by the BBC to the emergence of HIV in a four-year-old girl thought to have been cured of the virus as the result of treatment from birth – the so-called "Mississippi girl".HIV infection levels in the blood can be managed through antiretroviral therapy (ART

Could new potential treatment mean safer IVF?

“Dozen babies born using 'safer' IVF treatment,” reads today’s headline in The Independent. This headline was based on a new study providing proof of concept that the natural hormone kisspeptin-54 could be used to stimulate egg maturation in women requiring in vitro fertilisation (IVF).The modified IVF treatment on trial, which is hoped to be safer than standard IVF, led to 12 healthy babi

Obese women may have 'food learning impairment'

"Obese women show signs of food learning impairment," is the headline on the BBC News website.It reports on a behavioural study involving 67 individuals of normal weight and 68 obese individuals. Each participant was shown a series of either blue or purple squares, and then asked to predict whether the square would yield a reward. Depending on the phase of the experiment, this would be a p

'More adults should be taking statins,' says NICE

"Doctors have been told to offer cholesterol-lowering statins to millions more people," BBC News reports. New guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend lowering the bar for statin use in adults at risk of heart disease. NICE suggests up to 8,000 lives could be saved every three years if everyone with a 10% risk of developing cardiovascular disea

Steroid asthma inhalers restrict children’s growth

“Children who use inhalable steroids for asthma grow slower than their peers in the first year of taking the medication,” The Guardian reports. While this is an accurate report of the science, the effect found by researchers was small. On average, a reduction of around half a centimetre per year was seen, compared to children taking a placebo or other asthma medication.The researchers were st

Protein may help control diabetes symptoms

"Diabetes could be cured 'in single jab'," is the misleading headline in the Daily Express. The news comes from an exciting new mouse study which found promising results for a treatment for type 2 diabetes. However, the study did not show that it would cure diabetes, and certainly not after a single injection.Researchers performed experiments in mice using a protein called fibroblast growt

Owning a dog may make older adults fitter

“Want to appear 10 years younger? Just buy a dog,” is the dubious claim on the Mail Online. A study has found a link between dog ownership and increased physical activity in older adults, but how this is linked to looking younger is unclear. Contrary to the headline, the study did not measure or mention physical appearance.The study actually measured physical activity levels of 547 olde

Prediabetes label unhelpful, experts argue

“Pre-diabetes label ‘worthless’, researchers claim,” reports the BBC.The headline is based on an opinion piece published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by John Yudkin and Victor Montori, both of whom are professors of medicine. They argue that diagnosing people with “prediabetes” puts people at risk of unnecessary medicalisation and creates an unsustainable burden on healthcare syste

Study explores effect of plain cigarette packs

"Long-term smokers find the taste of plain-packaged cigarettes worse than that of branded cigarettes," The Guardian reports. The news comes from Australian research into the impact of plain packaging and health risk warnings on packets of cigarettes and anti-smoking TV adverts. The researchers found highly emotive warnings were more likely to capture the attention of the study's participan

Spoons lead to inaccurate medicine doses for kids

“Using a spoon to measure medicine for children can lead to potentially dangerous dosing mistakes,” the Daily Mail reports.Parents have long been instructed to provide liquid medication to their children in dosages measured using teaspoons and tablespoons. The rationale behind the advice is that this provides a quick and easy way for parents to calculate the correct dose.However, a new stu

Sex addiction affects brain in 'same way as drugs'

“Is compulsive sexual behaviour comparable to drug addiction?” asked The Guardian today. This and other related headlines came from a UK study that looked at brain scans of 19 men with compulsive sexual behaviour (CSB) while they watched either sexually explicit, erotic or non-sexual videos. CSB is a not a well-established diagnosis as it does not have a formal, universally accepted, defin

'Exercise may help prevent Alzheimer's disease'

"Cut Alzheimer's risk by walking," the Daily Mail recommends. This advice is prompted by a statistical modelling study looking at population attributable risks (PARS) – factors known to influence the prevalence of a disease, such as Alzheimer's, at a population level. The seven risk factors researchers looked at included diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, obesity, depre

Offer weight loss surgery to diabetics, says NICE

"An expansion of weight loss surgery in England is being proposed to tackle an epidemic of type 2 diabetes," BBC News reports. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended obese people with type 2 diabetes should be offered weight loss (bariatric) surgery.These draft guidelines include new recommendations about the treatment of obesity. In particular, NICE advi

Vasectomy-associated prostate cancer risk 'small'

“Men who have the snip increase their risk of suffering fatal prostate cancer, according to research,” the Daily Mail reports. However, while the increase in risk was found to be statistically significant, it was small in absolute terms.The newspaper reports on a US study that followed 49,405 men over 24 years, a quarter of whom had had a vasectomy.It compared the risk of prostate cancer i

Obesity link for siblings

“Children are five times more likely to become obese if their older brother or sister is overweight,” reports the Daily Mail. There is a widespread assumption that a significant risk factor for child obesity is if they have one or both parents who are obese.A new US study suggests that a more influential risk factor may be if a child has a brother or sister (or both) who are obese. A st

Malaria parasites can 'hide' inside bone marrow

“Malaria parasites can hide inside the bone marrow and evade the body's defences, research confirms,” BBC News report. It is hoped that this insight into the activities of the parasites could lead to new treatments.While most people associate malaria with mosquitoes, the disease is actually caused by tiny parasites called Plasmodium, which infect mosquitoes and spread the infection to huma


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